Air New Zealand will use flights between Auckland and Sydney to trial a smartphone app which will verify that passengers have been vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19.
The Kiwi carrier will join a growing roster of airlines adopting the Travel Pass app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a 'health passport', alongside Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.
Qantas is also believed to be looking at Travel Pass along with other similar apps which function as a "health wallet". As previously reported, the airline has suggested that vaccination will be compulsory for most travellers, citing widespread support by 87% of flyers surveyed.
The AirNZ trial will run for three weeks across April, with the app free to download for Apple and Android devices. Air crew as well as passengers "will be invited to join the trial", indicating that it won't be mandatory.
How AirNZ's Travel Pass app will work
Passengers will be able to create a digital health wallet linked to their e-passport. Once they have been tested and/or vaccinated, labs will securely send that data straight to the app, without being stored on a central database.
IATA maintains its app "has been developed with the highest levels of data privacy and security, so passengers always remain in control of their COVID-19 health information."
The app then checks the destination's requirements for travel against the data, and passengers who meet those travel requirements will be given the green tick to travel.
"Once borders reopen, travel is going to look very different, with customers' health data needing to be verified at check-in," says Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull, who describes the app as "essentially like having a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines."
"This will give customers peace of mind that they meet all travel requirements for the different countries around the world before they even get to the airport. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone onboard meets the same government health requirements they do."
The airline is also in discussions with government agencies on the options for validation of COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
New Zealand, which has been in the global forefront of successfully dealing with COVID, began its nationwide vaccination program on the weekend but expects it will take a full year to inoculate the country's population of five million, compared to an October 2021 target set for Australia's 25 million citizens.
This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here